Pulford says new solar farm guidelines will be released soon

By Country News

Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford believes her government will release new solar farm guidelines before the caretaker period is implemented for the approaching state election.

Ms Pulford was answering questions last week about the delay in getting solar farm guidelines developed by the Victorian Government and said an outcome should be delivered soon.

While she said she was not the minister for renewable energy or for planning, she added she was conscious rural communities needed certainty.

Ms Pulford said this situation was reminiscent of the debate about wind farms when she first entered parliament 12 years ago.

‘‘We need to move quickly to make sure the guidelines are clear, that you don’t have communities in conflict and you don’t have industry and community assets not being utilised properly.’’

Ms Pulford said Agriculture Victoria was working with the planning people to develop the guidelines.

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan has joined the solar farm chorus, by calling on Planning Minister Richard Wynne to create guidelines so local councils can decide on future proposals.

Ms Ryan’s calls come after it was revealed Campaspe Shire Council is currently considering a proposal for a 30MW project either side of Downing Rd, Stanhope.

‘‘I recently met with a number of constituents directly impacted by the proposed solar farm that strongly believe that without strict planning guidelines, councils are left with no option but to either accept or reject applications,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘The absence of these guidelines has created a lack of transparency for all parties involved.’’

Ms Ryan urged Mr Wynne to call in the Stanhope project, as he had done for similar projects in City of Greater Shepparton.

‘‘The minister should call in the application for this solar farm, as he has done with others within the Shepparton region, until such time as guidelines for solar farms have been released,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s unreasonable to expect council to give solar farm applications the thorough consideration the local community expects while there are no specific guidelines.’’